Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs”
– Matthew 19:14 (NRSV)
As a parent, you want the best for your kids. I have not been on the job long, but in the past year and a half I have been blessed (and a little stressed!) to observe how my kids have grown by going to church regularly. Church services can be difficult for children to understand and we have learned the hard way that it is not easy for infants to sit still, pay attention, and stay quiet – even when it is their father preaching. It is no wonder that babies cry in church!
Even though I have only been a father for a little over a year and half, I have already observed many wondrous ways that the experience of going to church regularly has benefited them. Let me share five of them with you:
1. The church taught my son to pray
In June, my family came to our house to be present for our daughter’s baptism. When we gathered around the dinner table to eat together, my son led us all by folding his hands for prayer. Now, I must shamefully admit that though I am a pastor, my wife and I are not very diligent about praying with our children before meals. On the scattered schedule of milk for one, formula for another, and still other meal times for us, we have not yet been able to settle into eating family meals together at the same time. Instead of asking Christ’s blessing upon a bottle of milk or formula before handing it to our children, we often just hand them the bottle.
Though we do not pray together at home like we should, we do pray together every week in church. This is where he learned it. The church taught my son to pray. Coming together every week and being in the presence of people praying together has taught my son to fold his hands in reverence to God. My son is not yet able to speak, but the church has already taught him to pray.
Rev. Seth Nelson, author of The Church Unknown: Reflections of a Millennial Pastor, writes this blog. The blog focuses on the future of the church as well as how God loves and cares for us in the present. He is a pastor in Ronan, Montana.